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The Evolution of Workplace Communication and Collaboration

November 26, 2019

Workplace communication has come a long way in recent decades. But is your team’s digital collaboration solution truly up to date? 

How do employees at your organization communicate? Do you default to email, use a dedicated tool, or take an ad hoc approach depending on the situation? If you haven’t considered the pros and cons of your company’s communication strategy, it may be time to consider whether you’re falling behind the times. The past decades have been a time of rapid innovation in collaboration technology — failing to update your strategy likely means that your organization is not taking advantage of the best of what today’s digital era has to offer. 

In a time of Google Drive, Slack, and dozens of other digital applications for the workplace, today’s teams have more options than ever at their disposal. If you’re curious about the best option for your employees, you should learn how communication technologies have evolved over time — and how new workstream collaboration tools are offering cutting-edge capabilities to teams in need of competitive solutions. 

 

A Half-Century of Innovation in Workplace Communication

As the modern workplace has taken shape throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, communication has remained the backbone of business function and productivity. Every team needs the proper tools that enable effective communication and collaboration. To make that happen, organizations have long been eager to take advantage of the latest advancements in relevant technologies. 

One of the oldest forms of “technology” for business communication is, of course, the paper trail. For a long time, it was necessary to use paper for sharing and storing information, even though it required a large amount of manual effort. Many businesses today may still use paper in some capacity, but few rely solely on this method. Instead, companies have striven to keep up with the many stages of digital technology. 

 

workplace communication

 

The earliest digital technologies were a game-changer. Email alone reshaped not only the business communication process but the scope of work that teams could accomplish. As the digital landscape became more complex, the need grew for new solutions like middleware that could manage the flow of data within systems. 

For a while, local, on-premises IT infrastructure was considered the business standard, requiring in-house investments in equipment, staff, and security. That local IT model, or a hybrid version of that model, continues to persist in some contexts. But for many digital needs, especially communication and data flow, the on-premises model has been in large part displaced by sophisticated cloud computing options. Communication tools are now more likely to run on a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or Platform-as-a-Service (Paas) model, which can offer more flexibility and mobility to accommodate remote work and distributed teams. 

In today’s work environment, the “always-on” business mentality has put real-time collaboration front and center. To stay competitive, companies have invested in a range of applications that promise to boost social cohesion, streamline project processes, or otherwise meet a need that is out of reach for older digital methods like email.

 

The Next Step in Business Evolution

Although there’s a crowded field of digital solutions available, organizations need to think critically to choose a comprehensive tool that suits their workflow and purpose. For some businesses, relying on an ecosystem of several apps to support their work may be sufficient, even if inefficient. But for companies with a distributed workforce or changing operational requirements, it’s time to turn to the latest in digital communication: workstream collaboration tools. These tools layer sophisticated discussion channels on top of workflow processes for an all-in-one, highly customizable teamwork solution. 

The next step in the evolution of business communication is up to you. Download our infographic to learn more about the history of workplace communication technology and how the latest workstream collaboration tools could change your company’s future.

 

workplace communication and collaboration timeline